Hope is Reborn

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – (Matthew 5:4, NIV)

Great blessings belong to those who are sad now. God will comfort them. – (Matthew 5:4, ERV)

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. – (Matthew 5:4, MSG)

Grief is in the forefront of my mind this morning, as I received news of a friend’s great loss. I never know what to say in the space of such suffering, as I know the despair and devastation created by loss, and we each respond differently in the depths of our own pain. For me, reminders of God’s goodness and ability to comfort, along with the recognition and recall that Jesus grieved in loss as well, seem to help my heart in such spaces. The shortest, yet most powerfully significant verse that I know in such a space is, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) Jesus weeping in the face of loss with His dear friends is a reminder to us that we are not meant to “keep it all together” or “be strong” when we face grief. It is good and necessary to grieve so that our hearts can heal. God takes the broken pieces of our hearts and puts them back together in such a wondrous way that beauty springs forth from our ashes. Incredibly, what I have found after a period of mourning, is that God brings along opportunities for me to offer comfort to others walking through something similar, and great hope as I can see so clearly how I was held through the pain. My hope and prayer this morning is that those in the midst of loss can find comfort and peace in the arms of the One who is able to heal us, and feel the freedom to grieve however it is needed so that release and relief may come.

When tragedy strikes,

Or great loss is known;

God be our comfort,

As Your love is shown.

Teach our hearts to grieve,

In spaces of loss;

So healing can come,

Let’s look to the cross.

For in such anguish,

You bore all our pain;

So that we might know,

That joy comes again.

For after the grave,

You breathed life anew;

Our forever hope,

That proves Your love’s true.

A time for weeping,

To grieve and to mourn;

So joy may return,

And hope is reborn.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have known and experienced loss and devastation, and You too, wept. Thank You that because You have lived it, You can relate to our suffering and bring comfort and healing and hope. Forgive us for our fears and doubts when all that we can feel is loss. Teach us to turn to You in our despair, for Your arms are big enough to hold our every heaviness. Show us how to love, support, encourage and walk beside those around us in their seasons of loss. May comfort be found and Your heart made known in new and tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God as we give You room and freedom to bring beauty from our ashes and hope from our despair. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Good Plans

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV) 

“I say this because I know the plans that I have for you.” This message is from the Lord. “I have good plans for you. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, ERV) 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope – never forget that.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, VOICE) 

I’m not sure about you, but I really appreciate this reminder today. It is a blustery day outside, I woke up tired, and was feeling a bit weighed down by the challenges and obstacles that are ahead of me. Sometimes, I think I just need to be reminded that He has so much more in store – for me, for my family, for the people around me whom I love. Just because I cannot see the hope and future in situations and circumstances, does not mean that it is not there. In hindsight, I can see again and again, how God made a way where there seemed to be no way, and how He brought beauty from seeming ashes and despair. Our present circumstances and challenges are not forever. Though at times it may feel like a very long season, God has a plan that is good. Today, I will simply soak in the promise that He knows the plans that He has for me, (and those around me) and that they are good. May we ever trust in the Lord and His promises, for He already knows how the story ends, and it is good. 

The Lord has a plan, 

And it’s always good; 

With our best in mind, 

Our hope understood. 

For His plan is peace, 

Not evil nor harm; 

Our glorious hope, 

Through life’s ev’ry storm. 

Choose be not dismayed, 

For in Him hope’s found; 

A future that’s good, 

Where peace does abound. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that no matter what we see or feel, You have a hope and a future for us that is good. Thank You that Your promises are true today, tomorrow and forever. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to distort our view of You. Teach us to lean into You and the promises that You have for us. Show us how to love those around us in ways that demonstrate hope and peace and goodness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we hold fast to Your promises that remind us that You have plans for us that are good. Amen. 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present 

Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:5

How Long?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? – (Psalm 13:2a, NIV)

My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your word. – (Psalm 119:28, NIV)

How much longer must I cling to this constant grief? I’ve endured this shaking of my soul. – (Psalm 13:2a, TPT)

My life’s strength melts away with grief and sadness; come and strengthen me and encourage me with Your words. – (Psalm 119:28, TPT)

 

I have set aside personal reflection for public view on the shift in schooling for quite some time, due largely in part to weight of my own sorrow. You see, not only is this the loss of concluding this school year with my students, but it is my own children’s senior year, and the second spring in a row that I have been absent from both. Last year, two weeks from now, our entire world came to a crashing halt. My mom suffered a massive stroke, and we were unsure of what the outcome would be. Immediately, my husband and I made the drive over the mountains to be with her, and I made arrangements to take a leave of absence to remain with mom, as Mark returned home to be with our kids. Mom is a fighter, and did remarkably well as my sister and I were able be with her around the clock, and after all of my years of teaching, I had plenty of leave to stay on through the majority of the remaining school year. Because mom was thriving and making gains, I did not give myself room to grieve. Now, nearly a year later, I am in an entirely different circumstance, yet in a similar space of loss. There have been moments of sorrow and grief, but I have given little time or space to ponder or process. Then, yesterday, as I returned to school for my designated twenty minutes to pick up any supplies I might need from my classroom, the weight of reality began to set in. Silent hallways and classrooms without kids running around, laughing, or talking to one another, left a hollow void in my heart.

My friend and colleague has a remarkable way with capturing in words, moments, so eloquently, and when I read what she posted on Facebook as a reflection of her twenty minutes in her classroom, I found myself fighting back the sting of tears. It took deep, intentional breaths to not fully succumb to the depth of sorrow I was feeling as I read what she had written. My own boys had been in her very first sixth grade class, and she recognized and grieved for those seniors too. There is just so much…

The beauty in the brokenness is that we are not stuck in it. God is faithful to pick us up, dust us off, and grant us fresh resolve. He does strengthen us, and today, my goal and focus is to be prepared for our launch of distance learning, come Monday morning. Additionally, today is my day to email a check-in to my art students, so that holds some hope and joy as well. In all things, God has a way of bringing beauty from ashes. I look forward to seeing how all of this season changes our neighborhood, schools, city, state, and nation for the better.

 

Hollow empty halls,wp-15870437506012790305386090599192.jpg

That mirror my heart;

Loss of what should be,

This season apart.

Such sorrow in loss,

Of all that could be;

Lord help us rise up,

As Your hope sets free.

Even in losses,

You can bring gains;

Beauty from ashes,

For Your love remains.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You hold us as we wrestle through our sorrow and heaviness, and You strengthen us with resolve once again. Thank You that You truly do bring beauty from ashes, and hope from despair. Forgive us for allow ourselves to sit in our sorrow too long, or for ignoring it and allowing the weight to burden us. Teach us to place all in Your hands, so that You can walk us through it into the good that You have in store for us. Show us how to love those around us well, even though we cannot see people the way we want to right now. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, and know the comfort and peace that You alone offer. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your comfort and strength in our sorrow, and anticipate the good that lies ahead. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

“…He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory.” – Isaiah 61:3

Equipped to Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. – (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Father who is full of mercy, the God of all comfort. He comforts us every time we have trouble so that when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us. – (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, ERV)

All praises belong to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For He is the Father of tender mercy and the God of endless comfort. He always comes alongside us to comfort us in every suffering so that we can come alongside those who are in any painful trial. We can bring them this same comfort that God has poured out upon us. – (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, TPT)

 

It really is true, that God, in His great love, comforts us in all of our troubles. The amazing thing that I so often discover, is the very things that I have known God’s comfort in, He uses me to offer comfort to those around me in a space similar to that which He brought me through. His comfort, kindness and compassion granted to us, expands our heart and capacity to do the same for those around us. Experience creates a sort of knowing that only one who has walked through a similar space can truly understand what another is going through. Our ability to be compassionate and extend the sort of comfort needed are heightened, when we know the road a person is walking. God is good and He is kind, He knows what we need in the midst of our struggles; He brings beauty from ashes and hope from despair. One of the ways that God does this is when He allows us to walk beside another who needs comfort in a space that we, ourselves, have been. There is peace and joy as we give what was given, and watch another press on and get through the difficulty. May we ever give God our praise for being our Comforter and for equipping us to comfort those around us.

 

All praise unto God,Equipped to Comfort

Who comforts us all;

He lifts head and heart,

Each time that we fall.

Because of His grace,

Comfort we receive;

We too can offer,

Love to those in need.

The very same grace,

The comfort we knew;

Is what we can give,

To help others through.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the God of all comfort and that the comfort You give to us, You raise up in us to give to those around us. Thank You that the struggles and trials we walk through can always be used for good if we trust in You. Forgive us for our fears and resentment when we are in scary spaces. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may know Your wisdom as to how to navigate, and know Your strength to persevere. Show us how to love those around us in ways that comfort and encourage in ways that bless the recipients best. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for who You are and how You love, and trust You to help us go forth and do the same. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:4

What Love Brings

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. – (Romans 8:28, NIV)

We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him. These are the people who God chose, because that was His plan. – (Romans 8:28, ERV)

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. – (Romans 8:28, VOICE)

 

This weekend has been a whirlwind, and I have seen God work for the good in incredible ways. First, on Saturday, the high school gymnastics team received some heartbreaking news, just prior to leaving for the state qualifying meet. The ride to the meet was quite somber, and then the incredible support, love and kindness expressed through the head coach’s words of care and concern for all those impacted, led the entire group to enter the building, wiping eyes and leaning on each other. I was in awe at how the girls rallied together and leaned on one another for strength, as they determined that they would persevere and do their best, despite their present circumstance. Good did indeed come from the resolve displayed by these young ladies, as they qualified as a team to compete in the state meet next weekend.

The second example of God working for good that I witnessed this weekend, was as my Viking and I spent the day back in Wenatchee with Mom. Already, we can see the good and beautiful that is yet to come, through her being back in her own hometown. Her joy as we ran errands together and helped set up her new space, was abundantly clear, at the recognition of how far God has brought her, and how much more He has in store for Mom, back in her own community.

Examples such as these, are reminders that God has a plan to work everything for good in our lives; even the most challenging of circumstances. He can bring beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Our charge is to trust and follow Him. May we ever seek the Lord and listen to His leading, so that we may walk in the goodness that He has planned for each of our lives.

 

In everything, wp-15819516692066865318171231899170.jpg

The Lord can bring good;

Beyond what we’d hope,

His grace understood.

Beauty from ashes,

Hope up from despair;

God makes a new way,

Shows our hearts He cares.

Lean into the Lord,

Seek Him in all things;

Trust His faithfulness,

And watch what love brings.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You work all things out for good for those who love You and seek Your face. Thank You for showing Your faithfulness again and again. Thank You that You love and protect, care for and provide. Forgive us for our frustrations and fears when all we can see is the dark or the despair. Teach us how to trust You in troubled times, for You move mountains, even when we cannot see Your work. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may know Your love, hope, faithfulness and care for them in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and seek to follow Your leading for every next step in our lives. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me. – Psalm 13:6

Enduring Faithfulness

For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord. – (Psalm 117:2, NIV)

He loves us very much! The Lord will be faithful to us forever! Praise the Lord! – (Psalm 117:2, ERV)

For His unfailing love is great, and it is intended for us, and His faithfulness to His promises knows no end. Praise the Eternal! – (Psalm 117:2, VOICE)

 

God’s faithfulness looks different in every family, yet it is present for all who seek His face. The hardest part for us in our humanity, is that His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts, above our own. What we see as something terrible and final, God sees as a starting point for something new. Yesterday, our family continued our typical adventuring on Friday, following Thursday’s feasting, and we left the house to find a change of scenery. We drove through the country a bit, taking in the green fields, snow-capped mountains in the distance, and the brilliant blue sky, until we reached our dining destination of mom’s choosing. Mom navigated the parking lot, restaurant and an errand afterward, all with her walker. She was on her feet and moving for many hours throughout the day. When we made our stop at Play it Again Sports on the way home, Mark and I hopped onto the giant rocking chair again to repeat a photo that we had taken two years prior. The photo again represents God’s faithfulness, as two years ago when he and his son joined us for Thanksgiving, it was in love and with positive intent toward the future, yet we were not yet engaged, and did not know all the good that God had in store for us together. Today, two years later, we have celebrated our first year of marriage together, purchased a home together, navigated and are still navigating serious health struggles with our parents, traveled, traversed trials, triumphs, and tragedies, and have been blessed to do so with the faithfulness of God in the center of it all. God knows our needs, and He is faithful to meet us when we seek Him. May we ever praise the Lord for His goodness and grace, and for His love that knows no end.

 

For great is the love,

img_2019-11-30_07-28-311110939619886091851.jpg

Our photographer has grown a bit in two years too. 😉

The Lord has for us;

Eternal is His,

Loving faithfulness.

God’s promises are,

For now and always;

All for us endures,

Throughout all our days.

Rise up and give praise,

To the Lord above;

Who’s always for us,

Forever with love.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and that Your love endures forever. Thank You that Your faithfulness never ends. Thank You that Your promises are truth that we can trust in forever. Forgive us for our fearfulness and doubt when life takes terrifying turns or wanders in directions that we do not know how to navigate on our own. Teach us to turn in trust to You in all things, as You are the One who brings beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Show us how to love those around us through all things, in ways that offer hope, endurance, faithfulness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You forever for Your great love for us and for Your faithfulness that never ends. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments. – Deuteronomy 7:9

Orchestrated Overcoming

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. – (Romans 8:28, NIV)

We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him. These are the people God chose, because that was His plan. – (Romans 8:28, ERV)

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. – (Romans 8:28, VOICE)

 

It is beyond my understanding how God takes the most difficult or heart-breaking of seasons, events, or circumstances, and uses them to launch us into something far greater than we would have ever thought possible. Not one hurt nor heartache is overlooked, and He leads us through to so much more than we would have envisioned for ourselves. When we choose God and listen to His leading, we find His grace, comfort and love through the trials, and discover the hardest of roads lead to the most beautiful of destinations. It is easy to lose sight of hope in the midst of despair, yet as we cling to Christ, love lights the way through the darkness, and His hand leads and guides us to something new. His new is light, life and love. Dreams are imagined and beauty comes from the ashes we thought would never end. May we ever hold fast to hope in God, as He uses all things for our good as we trust in Him.

 

All things in our lives,

Smiling fields

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Can be used for good;

When given to God,

His love, understood.

Beauty from ashes,

His hope from despair;

God shows us the good,

As His love repairs.

What once overwhelmed,

Darkness that has passed;

Seasons of struggle,

Lead to hope that lasts.

So, let us choose trust,

Find hope in His Name;

For there’s so much more,

Love changes the game.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You work all things out for good, as we trust in You. Thank You that You alone, can bring beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Thank You for the incredible outcomes of so many spaces we thought would be the end of us. Forgive us for our fears and doubts during seasons of difficulty. Teach us to trust You more, as we look to You to be our hope and help as we navigate to the new that awaits us on the other side. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends help in the now and hope for all that is yet to come. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust and rely on You, even when we see no possible way for good to come from what we are walking through. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

…”to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…” – Isaiah 61:3

Let Us Rejoice and Be Glad

This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be happy today! – (Psalm 118:24 ERV)

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. – (Psalm 118:24, TLB)

This is very day of the Lord that brings gladness and joy, filling our hearts with glee. – (Psalm 118:24, TPT) 

 

This particular day that the Lord has made provides tremendous reason to rejoice! After months of waiting and imagining what the day would be like, today is the day. Though I set my alarm for 5:00 am, I woke, with this verse on my heart, at about 3:40 am. I rose full of joy at the realization that this is the day on which I wed the one whom God has provided to love and be loved by well. After an incredible evening of loved ones gathering to dine and rehearse for today, my heart is overflowing with gladness and joy, as I have seen and known His faithfulness that brought us to this day. We will have our “first look” at 6:00 am, as my dear friend and photographer explained the glory of the morning’s early light for photos. After our hearts are captured and recorded, there will be much time to rest and relax prior to preparations for the ceremony this evening. God has blessed us with family that we would choose as friends and friends whom we consider family. No matter how the day unfolds, I have reason to rejoice, as I will become the wife of my tender-hearted Viking. May we each rise with a thankful heart, recognizing that each new day is a gift from God and holds countless reasons to rejoice.

 

This is a great day, wp-1532171212517484228603887301688.jpg

Which the Lord has made;

Full of glad reasons,

To praise the Lord’s Name.

Joy that’s unending,

Because of His grace;

Sweet love descending,

As we seek His face.

Let us choose rejoice,

In all He has done;

All thanks be to God,

O great, Holy One.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for this day and all that it holds. Thank You for the countless reasons that we have to rejoice. Thank You for Your incredible gift of redemption and the way in which You bring beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Forgive us for not rising with gratitude each day, for each new day is a gift with reason to be glad for who You are and all that You have done. Teach us to rise with hearts full of praise, as we rejoice in Your love throughout all our days. Show us how to love those around us with hearts that rejoice at the goodness You grant us with each breath that we take. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate Your goodness and faithfulness, both today and forevermore. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. – 1 Chronicles 16:34

He Hears Our Cry

“O Lord, I say to You, ‘You are my God.’ Hear, O Lord, My cry for mercy.” – (Psalm 140:6)

Yesterday afternoon, just prior to setting out for a gathering with dear friends, I learned that a gal whom I had grown up with, had lost her seventeen-year-old son. My heart filled with heaviness on her behalf, and all I could do was cry out to God, to cover she and her family with His peace and His presence in this horrific time of grief.
Too often, young lives end long before they seemingly should. These treasures that we are given from God, are cut short, leaving so many to grieve and wonder why. There is hope, despite the desperate tragedy. When we raise and instruct them in the ways that they are meant to go, the truth will be hidden in their hearts. Our ultimate hope is held in our eternal reunion. Though there is a seemingly agonizing season of separation on earth, imagine an eternity together…

When precious lives lost,Shan

young taken too soon;

hearts torn and broken,

with Christ, come commune.

He is the sweet space,

where healing begins;

He is the hope held,

as anguish extends.

Every cry heard,

that we offer up;

He’ll hold heart and hand,

and carry our cup.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our God, and that You hear our every cry. Thank You that You are merciful and kind, and that You are able to bring beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Forgive us for our fearfulness, and help us to place all into Your hands. Please provide Your peace and comfort to those who are in desperate spaces of despair, and move hearts and minds to surround the hurting to extend Your comfort and calm, simply by being present. May we love as You love us, and may many come to know the security and safety found in salvation in You. Be exalted in everything that we say and do. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

May God Almighty grant you mercy. – Genesis 43:14